After years of defrauding US citizens while posing as IRS or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials, over twenty individuals were sentenced to prison for their involvement in a widespread scheme that defrauded victims out of millions of dollars. Read on to learn more about this fraud, as well as tips on how to avoid becoming a fraud victim, and contact a Dallas tax attorney if you’ve been contacted by the IRS about a tax problem.
Phone scammers based in India demanded money they claimed was owed to the government
The recent sentencings targeted a phone-based scam operating from 2012 to 2016. Scammers would call American citizens, claiming to be agents from the IRS or USCIS. These alleged agents would threaten individuals with arrest, prison time, or even deportation if they didn’t pay their back taxes or fines to the government. The agents instructed victims to send money in the form of a wire, or through gift credit or debit cards.
While the scam in question was based in Ahmedabad, India, the scam incorporated agents based in the US to collect the submitted wires or gift cards and launder the funds. The recent sentencings targeted the agents based in the US, who were charged with money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy. These so-called “runners” handled millions of dollars in fraudulently-obtained funds, transferring them to the scam’s headquarters in India and earning a percentage of these funds. For example, Miteshkumar Patel is believed to have laundered between $9.5 and $25 million in ill-gotten funds. Patel was sentenced to 240 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release. Twenty other agents who supported the conspiracy were also sentenced, and some are facing deportation once their prison sentences are completed.
Avoid becoming the victim of fraud
You can avoid becoming the victim of phone fraud by following these tips:
- If you get a call from someone posing as an IRS agent, assume it’s a scam.
- Call the IRS back using an official number from the IRS.gov website; you can reach the IRS by calling 800-829-1040.
- No IRS agent will demand payment over the phone, nor will they threaten you with immediate arrest.
- If you owe back taxes, you’ll have received a bill in the mail before you’ll be called by an agent.
- Before the IRS will demand payment, they will first give you an opportunity to learn more about the amount you supposedly owe and a chance to appeal their decision.
One excellent way to avoid becoming the victim of a scheme targeting people who owe back taxes is to clear up any tax issues as soon as they arise. A seasoned Texas tax lawyer can help you find a workable solution to address any unpaid taxes or errors on past tax filings, whether through an installment plan, offer in compromise, or other relief from tax debts.
For skilled, seasoned, and professional help with unpaid taxes or audits in Texas, contact the Tyler offices of the Scammahorn Law Firm for a consultation at 903-595-1000, with additional offices in Dallas.